Saturday, April 29, 2006


Snow Surveying

So, I've mentioned a few times that we've been out snow surveying but you might wonder what that is. For us it means we measure the depth of the snow over and over and over again to find out how deep the snow is in an area and then we also collect some snow densities by dropping a tube down over the snow and carefully removing the snow core for weighing back at the camp.
Our method is different from most people because the snow up here is so different. We normally make 50 snow depth measurements, 25 in one direction and 25 at a right angle. Sometimes the path looks pretty cool:

Here Ken is doing densities:

So, we drop the snow from the tube in a ziploc and drag it back to the lab where we measure it before it melts. 5 densities and 50 snow depths at each site. So far on the trip I've done 41 snow surveys but there are still quite a few to go. Once you get your rythmn though it's pretty fun.
Well, off for Deadhorse soon for the final leg of the trip. We'll be helicoptering out of there for a few days hitting sites along the coast.

Friday, April 28, 2006


Flight Seeing in ANWR

I mean working in ANWR. Yeah, pretty cool, got some decent weather yesterday and then again this morning (We're on weather hold at the moment) and wow, what a place! We were just in the Brooks Range part and these are just a few pictures from yesterday but totally got the money's worth on this trip.

--- At this point of the post they came and got me an we flew back out again on an amazing afternoon ---

Here's a few pictures. If you click on the picture you can see a bit bigger version (like always).

Looking down a long, deep valley:

Ken doing some snow surveying in the headwaters of the Kavig River:

A couple of really broad valleys that I thought were pretty cool:

Up in the headwaters of Accomplishment Creek next to this small lake in the saddle of the ridge:

These super deep and narrow gorges were everywhere. Pretty darn awesome. They're like 20 - 30 yards deep and look like they just have a little creek running down them. Pretty amazing.

Another picture of the cool geology and rocks out there:

So yeah, chalk it up for yet another once in a lifetime trip for work. Got pretty spoiled rotten out there with like 10 or so hours of flying time zipping around the refuge. Along those lines, definitely is a reason it's a wildlife refuge, we saw thousands of caribou. It was pretty cool. Even saw a couple herds of moose. Earlier on the trip we saw a herd of 10 and yesterday we saw a herd of 6. Awesome.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006



Well, got in the paper again. Probably lost in the mix since oil taxes have been such a hot topic but oh well...
News-Miner Letters to the Editor


Notes from Toolik

Well, we made it up without to much hassle...

Not to worry, we got pulled over, Doug was driving, and swapped out the tire without to much troubles.

The first day of the trip was pretty intense. After visiting our first site the helicopter had trouble starting so we ended up cutting the day off way early to get it fixed. Oh well. In the meantime at our first station and snow survey spot apparently some little critter didn't get the memo about ongoing sensitive research and took a few liberties with our precipitation bucket.

So the weather's been marginal the whole time. Yesterday Doug and I did 16 snow surveys all over the place. It was a full day. I couldn't believe the pilot could fly with the contrast so low and all the flat light but we did okay. Here you can get a bit of a taste at a sport where Doug's snow surveying. See how low the cloud ceiling is and how gray everything is... yuck.

Oh well. We're still playing it safe and cruising through the snow surveys. Maybe if we're lucky we'll be out of here in a few days. Well, if things aren't to hectic maybe I'll post something fresh tonight.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Spring in the air

Well, headed up for a week of snow surveys in around Toolik Lake camp and northward tomorrow morning. I think there may be internet up there so if anything cool crops up you may hear from me otherwise... nothing till next week.
In the meantime, another good night of meat eating before the summer fire season comes.

I worry a bit about that fire hole that it doesn't melt the permafrost to much (only 2 feet below ground surface...) and turn into a small thermokarst pond or... worse:

Pretty classic picture from the Fairbanks area I think. I found it searching around for thermokarst ponds off this Powerpoint PDF (6 MB) about climate change, fire frequency and stuff. If you have the time to peruse it's interesting. Lots of pictures and plots from his stuff, Larry's stuff and others.

PS. Been procrastinating on my Arctic Engineering and Permafrost class homework and somewhere along the way this morning came across these:
Poop freeze pet spray
A bunch of people who collect useless pictures odd things

Friday, April 21, 2006


Identity train leaving the station for crazytown

So, you may or may not have heard, some university computers out in Bethel were compromised for quite a while for the past year and a half or something like that. Here's an article from the newspaper today:
New-Miner article

So, I've been googling various combinations of my name and social security numbers to see what pops up. Here's some of the odder things:

1) Everything you wondered about the faith business but were afraid to ask - odd religious rankings

2) Non-integrability of the mixmaster universe (PDF) - A physics paper

3) A House of Representative graphical vote tally on...

H RES 94

Last but certainly not least:
4) Am I

Quality stuff.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Waste time productively

Who says the internet isn't good for anything productive? Get ready, it's time to up the budget for stupid stuff again. Check this out:

... fortunately Mary Ellen's birthday isn't for a while.

Another item for the list is this place for rapid prototyping:
Online machine shop

I bumped into them a while ago but then forgot the address. I just have to think more about what I can make...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Recycle this.

Here's the latest installment of loving the cameraphone. It's one of my favorite signs on campus. It's been like this for a couple years now. There's a lot of good things going on here. Pretty much started out as a regular recycling sign and went downhill from there. Here's the sign:

So, first after "Trash..." somebody wrote "bad" simple, perhaps smile worthy but otherwise nothing much to write home about. The "Bad... Grammar makes me sad!" person, pretty funny but you know it's pretty much as fun to use bad grammar just for the people to blow their tops as it is to use words and stuff correctly. The thing that I think really takes this sign to the next level though is the third thing:

"Idiot grammar snobs... throw your trash away and recylce properly" That's quality in my book. The vast majority of people just don't care that much to take time out of their busy lives to finish a conversation on a recycling sign. This person did and I just wanted to salute them.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Room with a view

After a week of bleary eyes and sore throats... figured out yesterday that I was allergic to my house right now. So, after trying to sleep with all the windows open and not having it work... we go to plan B.

It's mid April. What's the deal with the fresh snow? Well, hopefully the tent won't blow off the roof today and I guess I'll be setting up shop in there until the allergies get back under control. I guess the silver lining is finally deciding to get off my lazy butt and go house shopping.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Fun with the new camera phone

Yeah, totally digging the new cell phone with cheapy built in camera. It's really coming in handy for capturing for eternity all kinds of useless things. The best use so far is catching the dogs doing all sorts of stuff and generally being happy / sleepy:

...or lounging:

Also this weekend I took a load of books from my old office up to my new one. Got the key last week for the IARC office. Here it is before I've left much of a mark:

The new office common area is pretty funny. It's got this mug rack in it which is pretty much like any other:

Except for that darn sign. Here's a closer look. Cracked me up. Such a great time to try out the new camera part..

Yeah, so that's all good positive uses for the camera. Others are more worthless. Like this, the first spider of the year I saw Thursday morning when I was walking to work. It was moving verrrry slowly in the cold morning. I couldn't believe it'd woken up so early since there's still a ton of snow on the ground but I guess don't really know how to think like a spider:

And of course then there are the moments that should be relegated to the dustbins of history like this one. A prime example of bad ideas going farther and farther awry. So, Torsten's moving to Juneau Monday and spent the day packing up / giving stuff to Johnson and I to take to the transfer station. One item for the give to someone else pile was this motorcycle helmet. Well, after wearing it as a hat... trying to crack bottles over it (while wearing it as a helmet)... there was a suggestion to put it on a piker pole like back in England during the dark ages. What a horrible idea. Yeah, so of course it had to be done. Torsten filled a garbage bag with straw and then taped it into a ball with masking tape and after jamming it into the helmet a mouth and nose were taped on and detail was added with a marker. The inglorious result:

Yeah, to top it off... when you're packing you have plenty of cardboard. So, the world got just a bit sadder:

Given this first week with the camera phone who knows how much further downhill I'll slide in the second week but I'll definitely keep you posted.

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